If you know your way around a sewing machine, can quick-fix a washer/dryer, fridge, boat or car, have an eye for antiques or possess some other random – even quirky – expertise, you could make tens of thousands of dollars working from home within the next month or two. True story.
Unemployment rates are at the highest peak in decades, and 1 of 6 people in America are out of work. Families are trying to figure out how to survive the pandemic and look for a new job. Here’s something very few of the newly unemployed realize: There’s work out there. A lot of it. And it might be just a few clicks away.
Shopping reinvented:America's stores, malls reopen with masks, curbside pickup and closed fitting rooms
Wearables as first line of defense? Tests expand on whether Fitbit, Apple Watch could predict coronavirus
In-demand experts earn as much as $60K a month
A handful of experts at a website called JustAnswer – a site where people can ask questions that they need skilled professionals to help with – broke all kinds of records last month. The average payout to JustAnswer freelancers for the month of April was $2,700 – 23% higher than any previous month. Some of the most prolific experts, including lawyers, auto mechanics, and antique appraisers, made as much as $60,000 in one month.
Normally JustAnswer experts field questions around technical, legal, medical and other common topics. People who use the site say they don’t want to roll the dice with an answer through a Google search or YouTube tutorial and often need more personalized real-time help. For that service, site users pay $5 to $40 a month to save time, hassle and money versus going in-person to a lawyer, accountant or other pros.
“Question volume has more than doubled since the pandemic started, and we continue to see a meteoric rise in the number of people seeking expert advice,” JustAnswer CEO Andy Kurtzig said. “May is once again poised to eclipse April, which featured our highest question count in 16 years by a significant margin.”
As a result, the site needs to fill expert spots – fast.
JustAnswer signed on more than 800 freelance experts in April, and Kurtzig said May is on track to blow right past that figure. He said the site needs experts – with at least five years of experience – in DIY appliance repair, home improvement, sewing machines, veterinary medicine, mental health, boat and car mechanics, technology and personal effects appraisals. As long as applicants pass a stringent vetting process and background check, new experts can start earning money in less than two weeks after they apply.
“We expected to see medical, health-related and finance questions skyrocket during this time, and they have,” Kurtzig said. “But it’s a surprise to see an 800% increase in questions around boat repairs, or get a few thousand more questions a week on how much an old family heirloom might be worth.”
Apparently, the masses sheltering at home are having a tough time fixing appliances that go on the blink, setting up home offices without the help of the IT department and are desperate to make some real cash selling treasures they uncovered during spring cleaning.
Grocery and meal delivery people go into the pandemic and provide their own car to make approximately $15 an hour. JustAnswer experts sit in front of a computer at home earning $2,000 to $60,000 a month.
The freelance fix
JustAnswer isn’t the only company looking for more workers. There was a 24% increase in freelance jobs available from March to April, according to FlexJobs, a job search website that specializes in remote, part-time and freelance positions.
“Although the pandemic has driven overall unemployment numbers up dramatically, that’s not the case with remote work,” FlexJobs Career Development Manager Brie Weiler Reynolds said. “Across the board, remote jobs are really strong. Freelancers let companies fill a need that may be temporary or project-specific, without having to take on the added expense of a long-term employee.”
FlexJobs analyzed its database of more than 54,000 companies that offer remote work options to highlight the companies with the most job postings as of May. Reynolds said there’s a major hiring surge in customer service jobs, which are often a natural fit for people with experience in the pandemic-leveled travel and tourism industries.
“Those skills translate really well over to freelance customer service and sales work,” Reynolds said. “Those are two avenues for the unemployed to pursue immediately because they require similar communication skills, relationship-building and the ability to problem-solve.”
Other sites that help you sell your skills and work from home include WFH Pad, which has vacancies for app testers, translators and online jurors. Anyone with fast fingers on a keyboard can earn money transcribing recorded conversations or adding captions to videos online at Rev.com.
Upwork and PeoplePerHour match your skills with businesses and employers looking for them – and handle everything from your profile setup to making sure you get paid. Clickworker connects you with some jobs you can do from your smartphone, and massive job marketplace Indeed has plenty of work-from-home jobs as well.
“A lot of people don’t realize that freelance salaries are often higher than full-time jobs,” Reynolds said. “Most of these entry-level positions right now are in the $12-$20-an-hour range and higher, depending on where you live.”
Sell your stuff
Another area where people are making money is by selling their unwanted stuff. A survey by tech resale sight Decluttr shows Americans are holding onto about $43 billion worth of old phones, DVDs and other unused old gadgets in their homes. According to the survey, the average person can make nearly $200 just ditching that trash for cash.
“Americans lose money by sitting on so much dormant tech at home,” Decluttr CMO Liam Howley said via email. “We encourage people to go through their homes and round up their unwanted tech, as they’d be surprised how much cash they could get back by trading it in.”
It’s not just tech and gadgets. The site sees a lot of people stumbling across hidden treasures. “People have a lot more time on their hands, and they’re finding really valuable things they didn’t even know they had,” said JustAnswer appraiser Judith Katz-Schwartz. “I’m also hearing from a lot of people who’ve lost their jobs and need to sell things in order to get by.”
Katz-Schwartz said she fields a lot of questions about old pianos, costume jewelry and rare books. Other artifacts experts on the site see a massive uptick in queries about antique dolls, artwork and coins. Site moderator Josie Taylor fields most of the 4,000 appraisal questions coming in each week. She said she’s seen such treasures as a 17th-century "Old Masters" painting potentially worth $3 million and a rare book potentially worth $45,000. Both of the people who inquired about these goods were shocked.
Depending on what you’re selling, Katz-Schwartz recommends a variety of online sites: Tradesy for designer clothing; Mercari, 1stDibs, Decluttr, Bonanza and eBay for just about everything else. Pamono and Chairish are great for selling vintage furniture and home goods. Online classifieds include VarageSale, letgo, Facebook Marketplace and 5miles. For fine china and more valuable collectibles, she recommends Ruby Lane, Replacements, Invaluable, LiveAuctioneers.com or AuctionZip.com, where she said to “search the directory for an auction house near you and consign to them.”
To help people get started selling online, eBay offers new sellers an extra 200 free listings per month through July. In an email, a site spokesperson said what’s really hot are video games, puzzles and at-home training equipment. Searches for gaming consoles are up 365%, while demand for breadmaking machines rose nearly 800%, and there’s an almost 600% surge in swimming pool sales.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor. Email her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly.